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What do you think about mock admissions reviews at high school College Night?

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Replies to: What do you think about mock admissions reviews at high school College Night?

  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 20,207 Senior Member
    Perhaps it makes the parents (and students) realize how hard it is to get the one spot out of 4, or out of 10 if we are talking Ivy. All the apps are deserving, but does the AO go with the kid who has been in band for 4 years, volunteers at the Red Cross, builds houses at Habitat on weekends or the kid with a gpa that is 0.2 points higher? Do they take the perfect test score kid or the class president?
  • StPaulDadStPaulDad Registered User Posts: 308 Member
    "Wrecking the dream" is an unnecessarily inflammatory phrase given the difficult situation these AdComs are in. There's no malice or focus on the losers, but a hard allocation of resources between similar candidates. I'm with the poster above who thinks the rich parent deus ex machina is a cop-out. Most of the kids who miss out on a dream aren't getting displaced by a new library, they just didn't rise above the crowd enough to stand out. That's hard, but it's what they are facing: less Disney, more Bros Grimm.
  • ItisatruthItisatruth Registered User Posts: 177 Junior Member
    @MWolf @StPaulDad To be fair to my cousin, "wrecking the dream" was definitely in jest! Totally agree with the sentiments in #16 and #18 above, just think there are better ways to communicate this content and carry out a similar exercise.
  • MWolfMWolf Registered User Posts: 392 Member
    @Itisatruth I understand, though there are people who do take it that seriously. I do like the idea of having parents comparing applications, as well. It gives them an idea what is needed, as well as how an application is used to assess a student
  • hcmom65hcmom65 Registered User Posts: 252 Junior Member
    I think it is a wonderful exercise. The one I went to was a night at a local high school that had real admission officers from all over the country. Parents and students were broken into groups of 8 at the most. Students were not with their parents. We had 3 files (one admit, deny, wait list) and they were real students (info redacted). What I found interesting is that other parents I spoke to (from different groups in a different room) had different discussions which led to a different decision on admit, deny and waitlist. This was a perfect example of how subjective the process can be. I loved the night!!!
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 4,832 Senior Member
    Our experience was the same as @hcmom65 . Real AOs, all good candidates with different strengths, and real difficulty prioritizing the students. They also gave us very little time with each app, which demonstrated really well the importance of making every bit of real estate on the app count, especially the essays.
  • StPaulDadStPaulDad Registered User Posts: 308 Member
    The next time someone sees one of these exercises please ask the presenters to put a video of it online. I think everyone sees these as valuable, but not everyone gets a chance to attend one.
  • lostaccountlostaccount Registered User Posts: 5,118 Senior Member
    edited January 23
    I don't think those particular scenarios help much because they are so fake. From the start, they seem like a set up leading to a "gotcha" talking point moment rather than to a genuine discussion about the challenges associated wtih admission to highly competitive schools. People tend to dislike being subjected to set ups, often rejecting them and the intended message. And for some in the audience, the intended message is irrelevent anyway.

    There is no one change or event that will lead to better decision making for all parents. But there are some changes that could nudge a larger percent of students in the right directions. I've said this before on this site but will make the suggestion again in the hope it catches the eye of some adcons, as follows (long set up-sorry)

    Schools now publish their % accepted and their resulting 25%-75% score and GPA stats. But doing so may actually lead to more false positive decisions by parents than having no information at all. Why? Because parents don't realize the extent to which they are privy to only a tiny part of the quantitative data relevant to the admissions process. What they don't see is probably more informative than what they are shown.

    Suggestion: publish the quantitative stats for rejected applicants too.

    Parents rarely realize they are missing the lion's share (up to roughly 93%) of the quantitive stats needed to make an informed decision (if they are basing their decision making on quantitative stats). Stats of the rejected pool are needed to know if a school is appropriate or not. A few schools acknowledge this fact and publish both sets of stats. Now that schools are being forced to count only completed applications as applicants, they can all also now publish the stats of the rejected sample. Some already do (see https://admission.princeton.edu/how-apply/admission-statistics ; https://mitadmissions.org/apply/process/stats/ )

    The importance of these stats lies in the difference in applicant pools across schools. Students (and parents) often rely on % accepted (along with score ranges) as proxy for selectivity level. But two schools with identical % accepted and score ranges for accepted students can be very different in terms of who they reject because different schools and different application processes result in very different application pools across two seemingly similar schools. For some schools, nearly the entire pool of applicants is very strong. Those rejected may have quants as strong as those accepted whereas other schools may accept nearly all the high stats students who apply.

    For many students (and their parents) the logic usually goes like this. My quants are well within the range of school X so I should have a good shot. The student figures those rejected have low stats. Not necessarily but sometimes. Consider a student with an ACT of 34. Princeton lists its midrange as 32-35. The student may view those stats as suggesting acceptance odds are high until they learn that 92.6% of those with scores from 32-36 were rejected.

    Publishing quants of those rejected might also cut down on resentments and claims that a rejection of one student was "unfair". Yes, your 4.0 1600s scoring student may have been rejected on the basis of his/her application and not because some other random kid in his/her school got preference because (insert prejudice here). 92.4% were.

  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 20,194 Senior Member
    The whole point is that it is a qualitative process -- not a quantitative one.

    So while knowing the stats of rejected students might add a dose of reality for parents or students who somehow still harbor the impression that their stats are their ticket in -- the purpose of the admission exercise is to provide insight on how important the non-quantifiable parts of the application are.

    Because things look very different from the perspective of the person sitting in the chair making the decision. At highly selective colleges, the stats serve a gatekeeping role, but are only secondary to the decision-making role -- which relies first on the qualitative factors -- and those vary with the students and with the needs & wants of the institution doing the choosing.

    Students shouldn't be targeting schools based on numbers -- they should be targeting based on identifying what their own strengths and goals are, and finding the schools which are most likely to appreciate those qualities. Then the quantitative information can be used to determine where the schools fall on the spectrum of reach/match/safety.

    And if the only takeaway from a mock admissions session is that it's hard to get accepted and admissions can be unpredictable, then either the session has been done poorly or else the people participating are just not receptive to the valuable information that is being conveyed -- perhaps because they are too strongly fixated on stats and not paying attention to the importance of the qualitative information. Because the ultimate value of these sessions is that they provide information that can be used to create a stronger application.

  • 3puppies3puppies Registered User Posts: 1,627 Senior Member
    For those that found an exercise like this helpful, was it too late in the process? These sessions are often attended by families of mostly high school juniors and seniors. They may know their kid's test scores/GPA/rigor, but they find out that it's quite often the other stuff like EC's and rec letters that can help become the differentiating factors.

    While it may be eye-opening to some families, perhaps it becomes more of a frustration to those who haven't been planning for the holistic process since junior high.
  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 Registered User Posts: 4,147 Senior Member
    Timing is definitely important! We started in DD's sophomore year so we were hearing these talks early. Her HS started their official college info sessions in early fall of junior year, so still time. By senior year there was just one meeting in September about completely FAFSA and common app.
  • 3girls3cats3girls3cats Registered User Posts: 1,919 Senior Member
    I went to one sponsored by several area high schools when my daughter was finishing up her junior year of HS. It was run by admissions officers from various colleges and the workshops were split so that kids attended separately from their parents. Before diving into the files (which we'd had access to before the date of the workshop) we were given a quick orientation from the two AOs running our group and learned how they approached files. We were able to understand the time spent in a typical review, the items they looked for in the apps, how they dealt with questions that arose (disciplinary marks in the record, erratic grades) etc . Using their framework, we parents evaluated each candidate and recommended admit, deny or waitlist.

    At the end, the AOs revealed their own judgments and how they would have decided in each case. IIRC, there was an athletic recruit and a development admit in our group of fictitious applicants. The AOs said that they often don't even see the development kids-they go through different channels. What was most interesting was that a candidate we'd unanimously voted to deny, was an admit to both AOs. We'd have probably given her merit money too, laughed one of them. This kid was not a URM but was a member of a minority population at that university. Interesting!

    So yes, I found it quite helpful. It gave me a good, clear sense of how my daughter's app would be received and where she could put effort, like in getting to know her guidance counselor and helping him to know her. Honestly, I had never before considered the enormous impact of the guidance counselor's LOR.

    @3puppies, the exercise can be helpful to anyone who wants to understand the process better. It won't change the kid's stats or activities but it can provide great insight into how an application will be received. It can help provide the tools your kid needs to structure an application to let the qualities that matter to the institution shine through and it can help to identify schools where a factor you hadn't considered might be attractive.
  • Leigh22Leigh22 Registered User Posts: 279 Junior Member
    Well, I for one am definitely better prepared to navigate this experience with S22. I found the mock admissions helpful.
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